Friday, July 27, 2007

The pieces come together (oh, and a RANT)

I had a call from our agency today (our Vietnam agency). They have all our documents checked over, and now all we have to do is take them to be certified at the State level (which as it's right down the street here in Raleigh, I'll hand deliver at 8:00 a.m. next week and pick up at the end of that same day!!), and then I'm hoping to hand deliver it to my agency late next week. The only thing holding me up is that a) I wanted our agency to check over our paperwork before we spent the time and money getting them certified!! and b) money. Sadly, this adopting thing costs A LOT OF MONEY.

People who haven't gone through it can't really comprehend the costs...and not just the money ('cause for the most part, the "old fashioned way" is still free! But if that doesn't work, well, you have to think about other options!) but also the emotional cost. Many folks out there are adopting b/c they can not/are unable to have children "through natural birth" (ok, this is a huge digression, but I hate many of the terms associated with the adopted vs. not adopted child. "Natural birth" implies that the adopted child came to a family via UNnatural birth... other terms used are of course "biological - or BIO - child" again, making it sound like the adopted baby is not actually a biological child but a... a what? not from a living being?? Since the rough definition of biological is: is any natural material that originated from living organisms. Same issue with "real child"... um, no. my kid is going to be plastic... Anyway, you were warned about this digression...)...

where was I?

Oh yeah, the cost. Anyway, I got sidetracked, but I wanted to mention we would have had this turned in sooner but we are about a brand new car shy. That's right. When we turn our dossier in, we also buy a new car...only, we don't get the car. We just get to turn over a ton of money that many people use to say, buy a new car. Oh, and you can't finance this type of expense. If I wanted a car, I could get a bank loan FOR THE CAR and pay over time. There simply isn't anything in place for adoption expenses. So, we're taking out a loan against our house. And living on beans and rice for the next 8 months. One of these days, I'd like to post about the different costs that the agency doesn't tell you about, but for now, I'd like to post something a friend of mine posted on her blog. I think she said it very well. And more importantly, she is very diplomatic. Something I, um, am not. heh.

So, here's what my good friend Noelle's Mom has to say about the cost of adoption:

Dispelling An Adoption Myth

Ok, I have to get on my soapbox for a moment.

This weekend I attended a friend's wedding and of course got lots of questions and comments about the adoption. I appreciated all of this for the most part...until MONEY came up. What is the deal with people asking if it costs a lot of money to adopt (and sometimes asking how much)? We get this question more often than I care to say from people we know as well as from people we don't know! I realize that most people are simply making conversation. I just don't know why this has become the "How's the weather?" question to ask when making adoption small talk.

I never know what to say. Yes, it's a lot of money. But it costs a lot of money to be pregnant and birth a baby these days, too. Nobody talks about that. The difference is that insurance doesn't cover the costs of adoption; however, there is an adoption tax credit, which helps.

I'd like to add that it also costs of lot of money to buy a car and to have and do many things that people have and do in our society - things that are obviously, crystal-clearly so much less important than/not even in the same planetary realm as children. So the cost of an adoption is really small, actually tiny, potatoes. One would think it goes without saying. Furthermore, there are grants and loans out there for people who can't afford to adopt without financial assistance.

But enough about that. The main reason for writing this post has to do with a pretty terrible comment I got (and this is the first time I've actually gotten this one) that started with, "When you buy your baby..." -- this is the MYTH I want to dispel. I really didn't know how to respond to this, and I basically didn't. I've never been quick with words, and I have been feeling very frustrated and regretful ever since that I didn't say something. So I will do my small part to set the record straight, at least in blogger land:

Adoption is a long, complicated process, involving numerous agencies, both governmental and private. Lots and lots of people from the adoption agency, local government, the federal government, and in our case, China, play a role in the process over many months and sometimes years, and of course all these people have to get paid for their work. Some of the specific costs include:

-adoption agency application fee (someone has to review the application and give the initial approval for the family to adopt)
-home study fees (parents have to be interviewed multiple times by a social worker as well as fill out tons of paperwork and write short autobiographies)
-medical costs (parents have to have medical exams done, and the baby does as well before being brought home)
-paperwork costs (multiple copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, background checks, etc. must be obtained, and everything has to be notarized)
-citizenship & immigration fees and fingerprinting (the U.S. government also has an application process to adopt internationally, and it expires after 18 months, so we'll get to do this again - oh joy!)
-certification & authentication fees (all the paperwork has to have official approval from the secretary of state)
-adoption agency fees (usually charged in 2 installments - they do a lot of work on behalf of families to educate us throughout the process, prepare dossiers and facilitate adoptions with China)
-dossier and legal fees in China (processing and finalizing the adoption)
-passports and visas (the parents and the baby have to have them)
-travel expenses, including agency guides while in China (2 weeks for China adoption)
-donation to child's orphanage (covers cost of caring for the child and helps them improve their facility to care for more children - the amount is extremely reasonable, and Chris and I (and I'm sure all adoptive parents) completely support it)
-post-placement home study report (the social worker returns at 6 months and 12 months)

This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it illustrates how many people are involved in orchestrating an adoption and that families are paying for NUMEROUS SERVICES -- NOT FOR A BABY. I really thought our society at large understood this, but apparently not. This was an educated (and by the way, nice) person, who made this comment to me. And Chris had a doctor tell him at a first appointment last year, "Some people think international adoption is buying babies." Would that be you, Doc?

The way to dispel a myth is to talk about it, so hopefully I've reached at least a few people who were in the dark. If others do the same, then little by little, this whole "baby-buying" B.S. will go away. Fellow adoptive parents, I promise to do a better job on the spot next time!

P.S. If you're asking about adoption costs because you, yourself, are interested in adoption, no problem! You might just want to make that known. :)

I couldn't have said it better myself, which is why I let K say it for me!!

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